A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW
Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre opened its fall season on October 4, 2017 with “The Addams Family. This musical comedy is based on the work of cartoonist Charles Addams (1912 – 1988), who first brought the characters to life in 1938 in “The New Yorker.” Their popularity led to a 1960’s television series, two animated series, three films, a DVD, and pinball and video games.
The story was fashioned into a musical in 2010, with book by Marshall Brickman and Eric Elice, creators of “Jersey Boys,” and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. With Nathan Lane in the leading role, it ran on Broadway for 772 performances. A national tour which incorporated revisions began in 2011, and was later released for production by professional and community theatres.
Although the plot is simple, the characters are complicated, and their antics and hopes and dreams and conflicts are at the core of the show. And what a crazy and wild family! Dashing dad Gomez is played by Broadway actor Carlos Lopez, who is both funny and a fantastic dancer with a great singing voice. Stacey Harris, a Broadway actress with three National Tours, appears as Morticia, his strikingly attractive wife.
Wednesday, the Addams’ daughter, is portrayed by Kala Tomas, who has a marvelous voice. The character is a lovely young lady with some quirky hobbies; she carries a crossbow to shoot birds and she tortures her younger brother from time to time. Evan Gray, who appears as Pugsley, made his Alhambra debut as one of the children in “The Wizard of Oz.” His credits include appearances in “Matilda: The Musical” both on Broadway and on the National Tour, and “A Christmas Story: The Musical” on the National Tour. He is thirteen years old and lives in St. Augustine.
The family’s predicament is that Wednesday has fallen in love and has invited her suitor and his parents to dinner. Lucas (Trevor Starr) is a normal guy, good looking, and respectable. Wednesday’s family members are dismayed at the prospect of spending an evening with others who don’t share their culture and values. The parents are portrayed by Tom Bengston as Mal and Regina Torres as Alice. Ms. Torres has a glorious voice and is well known to local audiences. She has appeared in several operas, and recently appeared as Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly.”
The other residents of the Gomez home who gather for dinner include Uncle Fester, portrayed by the picture-perfect Shaun Rice who toured nationally in the role. He describes himself as a fat, bald person without sexuality. He is in love with the moon, and at the end of this show, he straps on a rocket to pursue his love.
Actress Melanie Souza, last seen on this stage in “Sister Act,” appears as the elderly sharp-tongued Grandma whose magic brew causes chaos. Lurch, the family butler, is portrayed by the very tall Austin Palmer, whose suppressed talent comes as a surprise.
Eight members of the cast dance and sing throughout the play. They are familial ancestors, who reside in an adjacent graveyard and dress in clothing from varied periods. This dynamic ghostly ensemble included Shain Stroff, Jake Delaney, Alex Canty, Jamil Abdur-Rahman, Victoria Miller, Samantha Gardner, Olivia Chernyshev, and Emma Hunter.
The gorgeous set designed by David Dionne and Ian Black captures the aging massive mansion located in Central Park in New York. The set revolves, revealing the interior of the home in the rich dark colors one would expect from this unconventional family with their morbid preferences.
The inspired casting by Director/Producer Tod Booth, along with sensational choreography by James Kinney and musical direction by Cathy Murphy Giddens made this one of the most outstanding and most clever productions of 2017. The Costume Crew has once again captured the era with their use of apparel.
The production staff included Tod Booth (Director/Producer), James Kinney (Choreographer), Cathy Murphy Giddens (Musical Director), Patti Eyler (Stage Manager & Props), Shain Stroff (Assistant Stage Manager & Dance Captain), Camala Pitts & Dorinda Quiles (Costume Designers), Ian Black & David Dionne (Set Designers), David Dionne (Technical Director), Linnay Bennett (Sound Designer), Misty Desmit-Pyle (Lighting Designer), Luke Holt (Deck Chief), Patty Pitts (Wig Design), Julia Fallon & Megan Stillson (Wardrobe Mistresses), and Spencer Alderman (Lightboard Operator).
The North Florida area is obviously filled with Addams Family fans, as the show was almost all sold out before opening night. It will remain on stage through November 12; for reservations and additional information, call 904-641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com